Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Vale Fred

Last night I 'lost' Fred, the father of Finn and the loving husband of Freda! I'm grieving. It was only in March this year that I introduced you to Finn - my grandfish and now his father has 'left us'. You can read about the excitement of becoming a grandmother here.

I arrived back from New York yesterday morning (more on that later - I just can't write about it now!) and all seemed well with my 'fish-family'. The pond water was very low and so in my excitement of seeing them all again I filled the pond and fed them lovingly. Was it something I did? Was the fresh water combined with the food too much? All I know was that 8 hours later Fred was lying in the bottom of the pond. Now you might recall that when I 'lost' grandmother Francine that grandfather Frank was depressed and at the time friends said that 'fish don't get depressed'. Well they do! Today grandfather Frank, Fred's wife Freda and little Finn have all been 'hovering' next to dead Fred. I couldn't bring myself to remove him so a friend who had called in thankfully came to my aid, removed him and he is now buried in the garden. Dust to dust, ashes to ashes.

Sadly I didn't take a photo of dear old dead Fred but here is the photo of him with his wife Freda and grandpa Frank in happier days!
Freda (L)bonded to Fred (vale) and Frank (R)
Life can change so fast! Carpe (a type of fish!!) diem!

Tuesday, 23 September 2014


I visited a new warehouse the other day near my home, it's owned by a South African company and the space was enormous. They had created all sorts of interesting 'instillations' in an effort to soften the site (my summation) and the 'instillation' that really caught my eye were the tree roots hanging from the ceiling. I loved them - although I wonder where on earth they could be 'installed' in a home environment. You'll find Weylandts at 200 Gipps Street, Abbotsford
When is a root not a root - when it hangs from the ceiling!
Would you call this a root hanging?!
Now that's a big root for a coffee table!
Rooted to a stand - wonderful shapes

It got me thinking about the dear old mallee root which really is the best burner in our home fires. They are getting harder and harder to find and as a result more and more expensive. But if you can find them, they are worth the 'investment'. The root comes from - surprise, surprise - the Mallee - an ill-defined district encompassing North Western Victoria and North Eastern South Australia. It's a low growing bushy eucalypt with several slender stems. But it is what is under the soil that's so valued. Their roots are long and gnarly in order to 'search' for water in some of our most arid country. 
The famed Barry Horrigan the wood man in Melbourne - sitting on a pile of mallee roots!
Recently I heard that mallee nuts (about the size of a fist) are fantastic for the barbeque. The heat can get to 400 degrees (yes that's what I was told!) Not surprisingly a seared steak is the result!
In days of yore - collecting mallee roots (museum victoria
My favourite memory of the dear old mallee root was the one that my mother iced for my father's 70th birthday. She took ages choosing the right shape and she dotted the root branches with candles. I just wish I still had a photo. It looked terrific with icing dripping off it. My parents didn't celebrate with the usual cake - it was much more fun surprising the recipient by icing something like a log of wood or a piece of foam (and watch as the receiver tried to cut through it) but on this occasion I think even my father didn't attempt a slice! No doubt there were many toasts to both the icer and the birthday 'boy'. 
A mallee root 'featuring' special planting - rather like icing!! (fcbs.org)
There's nothing like a mallee root fire. Enjoy them before we wipe them out completely. 

Tuesday, 16 September 2014


One of the emails I enjoy receiving daily is a quote from a writer. To receive a daily quote all you need to do is go to Goodreads at www.goodreads.com and register - you can choose whether you want to receive book recommendations or just the quote-a-day. The quote is usually sent on the birthday of the author and it also gives a little detail about them - many of whom I have never heard of!
Let the quote come to you with goodreads (the guardian)

Here is a selection from the last few weeks for you to ponder:

When you laugh, laugh like hell. And when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.
William Saroyan
William Saroyan (born August 31, 1908) often wrote about characters who share his Armenian heritage, as in his book of short stories, My Name Is Aram. He is best known for his first play, The Time of Your Life. It was awarded a Pulitzer, which he refused, saying that "commerce should not patronize art."

I am different, not less.
Temple Grandin
Happy 67th birthday, Temple Grandin! The animal scientist and author drew from her own experience with autism to develop humane practices in the livestock industry.

One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and, if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words.
With his debut novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (born August 28, 1749) became an international celebrity. It was one of Napoleon Bonaparte's favorite books. 

How slow life is, how violent hope is.
Writer Guillaume Apollinaire (born August 26, 1880) is credited with coining the term "surrealism." He first used it in the program notes of a ballet by Jean Cocteau and Erik Satie.

I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night.
August 25, 1609: Galileo, a professor at the time, demonstrated his modification of a Dutch spyglass—it was the first telescope and led to his career as an astronomer. 

What is the point of being alive if you don't at least try to do something remarkable?
Happy 37th birthday, John Green! His bestselling young adult novel, The Fault in Our Stars, was inspired by the time he spent as a chaplain at a children's hospital. Though he was enrolled in divinity school and wanted to be a priest, the experience shifted his ambitions. 

I always worried someone would notice me, and then when no one did, I felt lonely.
Happy 39th birthday, Curtis Sittenfeld! The writer is best known for her debut novel, Prep, a coming-of-age story set at an elite boarding school. 

You can't stay in your corner of the Forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.
August 21, 1920: A.A. Milne and his wife thought that their baby was going to be a girl. When he emerged a boy, the parents chose a new name for him—Christopher Robin. It would be popularized in Milne's many Winnie-the-Pooh stories of a boy and his bear.

I wanted to teach myself some life lessons at the age of 60 and one of them was that you don’t give up.
Happy 65th birthday, Diana Nyad! In 2013 the writer and champion swimmer achieved her long-held dream of swimming—without a shark cage!—from Havana to Key West. It was her 5th attempt.

Solitude is fine but you need someone to tell that solitude is fine.
Even after he found literary success, Honoré de Balzac couldn't resist a get-rich-quick scheme. The French author failed at running a printing press and a type foundry as well as speculating in slag and in lumber. He died 164 years ago today.

Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.
Frederick Douglass
September 3, 1838: Writer and abolitionist Frederick Douglass escaped slavery by boarding a train dressed in a sailor's uniform and carrying borrowed identification. He wrote about his journey in his autobiography, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass.

And finally for a good laugh!
I like a woman with a head on her shoulders. I hate necks.
Happy 69th birthday, Steve Martin! The comedian may be a "wild and crazy guy" onstage, but he has also written a philosophical play that imagines a meeting between Albert Einstein and Pablo Picasso (Picasso at the Lapin Agile) as well as two novellas and a memoir.
Summer is a-coming (the guardian)

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

team australia

It's footy final fever here in Melbourne and yet our Prime Minister thinks it's more important that we are all part of Team Australia. I have never heard anything so ridiculous in my life. But the marvellous thing about this type of hyped up meaningless jargon is that it has the cartoonists in seventh heaven. No one can do it better.
Oh I love you Leunig (The Age)

And I love you Tanberg (The Age)
Now I'm a loyal Australian. I love this country but please let me choose my own team. I would be furious if I was a Carlton Football supporter as Team Australia is all blue (blood (!). So give me my footy team the Geelong Cats anyday. Thank goodness their colours are blue and white! And while I'm at it 'Go Cats' in the Finals (from their performance in the first finals game they are going to need all the help they can get)!

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Life without the internet!

Yesterday morning I read and actioned my emails.

Yesterday afternoon I couldn't read or action my emails!

A quick call to the service provider was all I thought I needed. Quick. There is no such word as quick when it comes to computers and the internet. My modem wasn't behaving as it should. "Is the light on the back flashing?" "No". "Is the light on the front flashing". No. "Can you plug it into a different power point". I'm on the floor trying to find where it is plugged in. Finally I find it. Then I have to crawl out of that hole and drag the modem and the connections as far across the room as possible taking care not to garotte myself on the cords as I go. We repeated the process so many times that I thought I would expire!No need for the gym today!

And the result of over an hour of fiddling, pushing buttons, looking at lights on the front and back of the modem (at the same time?!?!), crawling under the desk, and the final result - still no signal. Ah ha the modem needs replacing. "We will fast track this for you and you should receive it in 3-5 days". 3-5 days? Now if that is fast tracking I hate to think what slow tracking is? 

And then I had a bright idea. While I was waiting for the new fast-track modem to arrive 'express at my door' I would bring the modem I have at another property nearby back to my home. After all it was only WIFI broadband that I wanted. I was thrilled with myself for thinking outside the square. 

So this morning I collected the 'other' modem and plugged it in at home. Da Da. Up came the notice that it was connected but wouldn't connect. So this was the connection that was and yet wasn't!!!! How could that be! So back on the phone to the service department. Just explaining that I had a fast track replacement modem enroute to my home to replace the failed one (yesterday) and that I was now using another modem from my other property was complicated enought but 5 - I repeat 5 hours - and many phone calls - later (the technician had to go to the loo, lunch, discuss my 'case' with I don't know who) I was finally up and running. I must say that Rob the unlucky technician who took my call couldn't have been more pleasant as I struggled with yellow cords, crawling round the floor, resetting the modem; "use the point of a bent paper clip and hold in for 30 seconds" he said - well just finding a paperclip was an exercise in itself; then when that didn't work he suggested trying it all over again on a second computer (more cords and more floor crawling) until we were finally up and running! I could go on but I think you have the picture - and talking of pictures - here it is! 
2 computers, 2 mice(!), numerous cords above and below the desk, the rear of the modem, 2 powerpoints and a great big mess
I dread to think what it will be like explaining to the service department that the new fast-track modem that is on its way to me as I type is now being installed at the 'other' property - whilst I keep the 'other' property modem at my home!!!!!!!!!!!!! 
Even my wise old owls had trouble! But look - I'm up and running - 3 green lights - whoo hoo we hooted
Ain't technology grand (when it works)